Among Us First Critical Play

  • Name of game, creator, platform

I played Among Us on the mobile app. Among Us is is created by the indie game studio Inner Sloth. Among Us app is supported in desktop and mobile.

  • Target audience (as best you can discover from research or the games messaging)

I believe the target audience is mainly groups of friends in the Gen-Z age range. To premise this claim, we can take a look at the marketing of Among Us, which was introduced in 2018 and saw a surge in popularity from mid-2020 with the help of promotion strategies among communities of Gen-Z that are emerging from social platforms like Twitch.

Twitch streamers discovered the game, and started the virality of Among Us on Twitch in July 2020. Popular streamers and Youtubers caught onto the trend, like Ninja and Pewdiepie. Their audiences are in the Gen-Z age range.

The most interesting part of Among Us is the UGC. Fanart, memes, and other content are the most powerful social media marketing tools as they create lucrative, engaging content for free. UGC is particularly prevalent amongst Gen-Z, which see the internet as a way to present themselves, engage with others, and share what they are doing.

  • Notable elements of the game: how many players? What actions can players take? How do rounds work? Do they do anything interesting with player relationships/objectives/resources? (refer to Formal Elements for this!)

There are about 5-15 players. Usually, 1-2 are assigned as imposters (one team), and the rest are crewmates (another team). The game takes a Team vs. Team format, or a Multiplayer Co-op format.

The goals of the game are for one team to outwit the other; in essence, for the crewmates to find and eliminate the imposters or finish all their tasks before they are killed, or for the imposter(s) to find and kill the crewmates. Among Us is in its core a social deception game.

Interestingly, crewmates and imposters can take different actions. Crewmates must complete tasks in order to win the game, and are able to access different types of tasks in the setting. Imposters do not have access to tasks, as that is not their objective. As their objective is to kill the crewmates, they are able to ‘kill’ a crewmate upon collission, attack different parts of the setting to lure crewmates into a trap, or use vents to teleport between locations. Thus, the setup is very different depending on the team you get put into.

  • Compare the game you chose to other games in its genre. What differentiates it from the other games? Is it better/worse? How so?

Among Us is similar to other social deception / social deduction games like Mafia. In both games, there’s an informed minority (the mafia, imposters) and an uninformed majority (villagers, crewmates). Among Us is differentiated from games like Mafia and Werewolf as it introduces complexities like tasks and sabotages which make the game more exciting as it provides other solutions to beat the game (new patterns the players can analyse and follow). It is possible that the introduction of these complexities can make the game worse by providing a steeper learning curve, but I believe for the targeted age range, the challenge is necessary for the game to become more “fun” as it provides additional patterned ways of achieving of the goal. Obviously, it must have had a lot of play-testing to back this claim, because the game is so fun to me as a 19-year-old.

  • Was the game fun? Why or why not?

The bottom line is Among Us is that it is fun because it provides patterns to decipher in order to achieve the objective, from so many lenses:

  • Game memory (remembering who found who, who is dead in which area, etc.)
  • Mechanical and spatial challenges (ex. navigating, smooth movement, understanding the map)
  • Social deception (ex. lying, figuring out who is lying, remembering who said what before and understanding contradictions)

And on top of that, it allows people to express themselves – to show their personalities (ex. people lie in different ways), and to work together as a group and feel emotionally bonded to your teammates and the game.

  • Moments of particular success or epic fails (in your opinion)

I’ve spoken a lot about why the game is great. Epic fails to note: sometimes the game is awfully unbalanced. 1 imposter versus 15 crewmates can be daunting for the imposter. Whereas 3 imposters with 7 crewmates would be unbalanced in favour of the imposters. Allowing the user to set these preferences may set them up for a pretty quick and unfair game where both teams don’t feel sufficiently challenged. In addition, if the imposter is caught the first try, the game ends extremely quickly. Finally, I have had the situation where I played 20 games in a row and was never the imposter. This can be pretty frustrating when you want to be part of the other team just for once.

  • Things you would change to make the game better

Based on the above moments of epic failures, I would:

  1. Have presets for amount of players who are crewmates and imposters
  2. Have an algorithm which allows you to have a proportional number of chances to be the imposter; if you weren’t an imposter last game, you have a higher chance of being an imposter the next game. However, this can tamper with the randomness of the imposter, which can lead to players being better able to guess who the imposter is, so playtesting is certainly needed for this suggestion.

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